Good snowpack of previous years will help fishing this year
by Wyoming Game & Fish
April 29, 2012
Above average snowpack in most of Wyoming the past few years will continue to have a positive effect on Wyoming fisheries this summer and into the fall.
In most areas, the runoff should be over sooner this year, which means streams and rivers will likely be in good fishable condition weeks sooner than the past few years. In addition, the good water levels of past few years are carrying over and the ramps are generally accessible. The following gives an idea of what anglers and boaters can expect in Wyoming waters in 2012.
In the Jackson area, fishing should be good before the runoff starts in popular rivers such as the Snake, Green, Hoback, Greys, and New Fork. Due to a lesser snowpack this year the runoff is not anticipated to be as long as last year and depending on runoff rate rivers should be fishable by early to mid July. Last year many streams were not fishable until August. Lower elevation lakes are productive right now and good fishing is anticipated through May. As is customary, the higher elevation lakes will be very good later in the summer.
In the Cody region, the boat ramp on Big Horn Lake will be open by early May and fishing is expected to be good, especially for channel catfish. Sauger fishing on the lake typically is at its best in the fall months. Excellent fishing is expected on the Bighorn River near Thermopolis as the trout population is at an historic high. Fishing in the river should be very good through June and again in the fall as the water cools. Also in the Cody region, Buffalo Bill Reservoir has been fishing well for lake trout and the fish have been reported to be larger than average. Good fishing for large trout is also forecast after the runoff for the North Fork of the Shoshone River. Likewise, the Absaroka Mountain tributaries should be very good after the runoff.
Fishing in the Sheridan area is anticipated to be very good this summer. The Bighorn Mountains have numerous high lakes and streams and the Bighorn range is one area of the state where the snowpack is a little above average. Most of the higher lakes in the Bighorns should be accessible by early summer. The popular lower reservoirs in the region are full, and fishing is good now and should continue to be good throughout the spring. Stream fishing in the region is also expected to be very good.
The Green River region reports that anglers should have good opportunities in southwest Wyoming waters. Flaming Gorge should have an exceptional kokanee year with good numbers of both three- and four-year-old kokanee available for anglers. These fish should run from 17 to over 20 inches. Fishing for kokanee will start getting good about mid May. Rainbow fishing from shore has been good since ice out. As the reservoir warms in late May into June, the rainbows will move away from the shoreline. Lake trout will be available to boat anglers fishing deep through the spring, summer, and fall. Limits are still liberal on the smaller lake trout.
Fishing for kokanee is also expected to be good in Fontenelle Reservoir during May and June. Fontenelle also has good numbers of brown trout and has good numbers of rainbows that will be in the 12-16 inch range by summer. Viva Naughton near Kemmerer also has good rainbow trout fishing. Best times are spring and early summer and again in the fall months. The Green River between Fontenelle and Flaming Gorge should also be good, providing anglers with rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. Rainbows stocked last year in the river are doing well and are now 13-15 inches long. Good fishing is also expected in High Savery Reservoir once the roads open up. In addition to kokanee and cutthroat trout, the reservoir also boasts a unique fishery with a good population of tiger trout. Cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing should be good on Sulphur Creek Reservoir. The reservoir also has a population of walleye established by illegal stocking and anglers are encouraged to keep all of the walleye they catch.
In the Laramie region, reservoirs are full and ramps are accessible. Springtime fishing in Laramie Plains lakes should be excellent. Spring surveys in Leazenby produced good numbers of brook and rainbow trout and Gelatt also had good numbers of rainbow trout with a number in the five-pound range. Likewise, Meeboer Lake suffered some winterkill, but the lake has been restocked with rainbow trout and, due to abundant forage, the fish will grow extremely fast and provide good opportunities for anglers throughout the coming spring, summer, and fall months. In the Laramie Plains area, Lake Hattie and Twin Buttes both have good populations of trout and fishing is expected to be very good. Wheatland Reservoir #3 has good populations of larger brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout with many fish over 20 inches. Walleye fishing in Hawk Springs Reservoir has been good early on and fishing for walleye and smallmouth bass in Grayrocks reservoir is also expected to be excellent. High lakes in the Snowy Range should have plenty of water and good fishing for brook, rainbow, cutthroat, and splake. The popular upper North Platte River should also be productive this year, and depending on the rate of runoff should be in fishable condition by mid June.
In central Wyoming, Boysen Reservoir is full, but due to lower rainbow trout numbers fishing is expected to be fair. Boysen walleye anglers should find fair to good fishing in late May and June, and anglers in Ocean Lake should also find fair to good walleye fishing. Other reservoirs with good opportunity include Pilot Butte Reservoir, which has a good rainbow trout fishery, and Trail and Torrey lakes near Dubois, which have improved rainbow trout populations. Due to lower snowpack, access to the high lakes will come sooner this year with many lakes, depending on elevation, accessible by early to mid July. High lakes in the Wind River Mountains have a variety of species including rainbow, cutthroat, brook, and golden trout and fishing is generally excellent. Rivers should be clearing faster than the past few years. The Wind River is fishable now and depending on the rate of runoff should be clearing and fishable again by mid to late June.
The Casper region should have fairly good fishing throughout the summer. Trout anglers should see improvements at Seminoe Reservoir as runoff is expected to be lower than the past couple of years. This should result in clearer water and better fishing conditions for trout. Walleye numbers are down at Seminoe, but anglers can still find a fair amount of 15-inch fish. Conditions are better at Pathfinder with improving numbers of trout both in the reservoir and in the Miracle Mile section of the North Platte River, thanks to stocking of cutthroat trout in Pathfinder. The fishing at the "Mile" is given a boost in the spring when the cutthroats leave Pathfinder Reservoir and run up into river to spawn. Good numbers of trout over 20 inches are available in Pathfinder along with numerous 18-20 inch walleyes. Trout fishing from the bank at Alcova Reservoir is expected to improve with improving trout numbers due to more stocked trout despite the predation of stocked trout by walleyes. A walleye tagging study is still underway at Alcova. So far, nearly 30 percent of the reward tags have been turned in by anglers since the study began last year and walleye are being tagged again this spring. Rewards for returning a tag range from $5 to $100. Anglers catching a tagged walleye are requested to place the tag into a tag-return envelope and either drop it into one of the fee boxes located around the lake or return it to the Casper Game and Fish office. The popular North Platte River from Gray Reef to Glenrock is in good condition for trout and should continue to improve. High water levels the past couple of years have cleaned gravel in spawning areas and will improve production of invertebrates, which fish depend on for food. Glendo anglers will also have ample opportunity for walleye. The two-year-old walleye that were under the 15-inch size limit have grown to legal size and walleye fishing should be good at Glendo this summer. Glendo also has a fair number of large channel catfish available. Goldeneye Reservoir near Casper has a lot of trout over 20 inches, and anglers can expect to catch rainbows, cutthroats, brook trout, and possibly even Arctic grayling. 33 Mile Ponds are in poor condition this year due to low water levels and winter kill. Additional water from future spring precipitation is needed to help these ponds recover.
Anglers are reminded to check fishing regulations for the water they plan to fish. In addition, the Wyoming Fishing Guide can be found online at http://wgfd.wyo.gov.